The antechamber of the undead

Where the individual is deprived of all agency, but discovers his power of resistance. Where a liminal state is manifest, behind which emerge the specters of dispossession, dismemberment, and desecration, and the metaphor of the undead as a body devoid of will and strength. Where fear begins to infiltrate the social landscape, and the resurrection of the undead lead them to avenge their own people, outlining a space in which the synchronic constructions of history start to take shape.

Aria Dean

Dead Zone (4)

Cotton branch, polyurethane, bell jar, wood, signal jammer
13.25 x 12.5 x 12.5 in

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

Although typically sold today as a novelty item for flower arrangements and interior decorating flourishes, cotton can also be seen as a proxy, through synecdoche, for US slavery. Dead Zone (4) presents a preserved blossom of that trade's primary cash crop, cotton, crystalized in a state of non-decay whilst encased under protective glass. Hidden in the base of the work is a signal jammer which prevents mobile phones from broadcasting when nearby. Although temporary, this scrambling slows the ability of audience to market themselves through proximity to Aria Dean's item of cultural capital—considering the work's subject, this also begs the question: who gets to represent who, what, and how when it comes to the spectacle of marketing images of pain, symbolized here through cotton, a commodity historically extracted from Black slave labor.

Through art, text, and exhibition making, Aria Dean (Los Angeles, 1993) analyzes the structure and circulation of images and subjectivities in relation to material, cultural histories, and technology. In particular, Dean has established herself as one of the leading young theorists in the discussion around Black cultural production and its appropriation in material culture through the paradigmatic essays “Poor Meme, Rich Meme” and “Notes on Blacceleration.”

Adriana Bustos

El mar y sus múltiples afluentes

Acrylic paint and graphite on canvas
18 x 236 in

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

El mar y sus múltiples afluentes [The Sea and its Multiple Tributaries] builds on the concept of trafficking that Bustos has been exploring over the last decade. The piece represents an apocryphal river and illustrates the routes of the slave trade between the coasts of Africa, Europe, and South America, departing from the Congo River (once called Zaira), and arriving at Río de la Plata, the main river in Buenos Aires that divides Argentina from Uruguay. The work collapses time and space, placing the coasts of colonial empires across the colonies where slaves were taken.

Adriana Bustos (Bahía Blanca, 1965) creates a narrative discourse through installation, video, photography and drawing, in which her reflections on prevailing social, political or religious oppression appear in non-linear interpretations of history. The investigative and documentary nature of her work challenges so-called historical facts by drawing from ideas taken up in areas of anthropology, science, popular culture, fiction, biographical writings and history itself, and juxtaposing them within representational systems.

Noé Martinez

Relación de tráfico de personas 1525-1533 I 

Tanned cowhide, leather, oil, acrylic and liquid gold
8 3/4 x 39 x 9 3/4 in

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

As he investigates the forms that slavery took through different events that occurred during the sixteenth century in the Huasteca region of Mexico, Noé Martínez tells in a non-linear narrative the history of human trafficking in Relación de tráfico de personas 1525-1533 I [Study of Trafficking of Persons 1525–1533 I]. Both the departure of Huasteco Indians from the Americas, and the arrival of Africans from Cape Verde, Angola, Congo and Mozambique unravel in Martinez work as a story that has remained sealed in the colonial archives, and that continues under different guises in contemporary times.
The work of Noé Martínez (Michoacán, 1986) carries out an exploration of different topics, among which the evolution of language in relation to the history of the European colonization of Latin America, the vindication of ethnicity in the political processes carried out by the indigenous populations of Mexico, and the political power of memory.

Sam Durant

Les Armes Miraculeuses

Marble, wood, eggs, and shells
34 × 18 1/2 × 24 in

Courtesy the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Les Armes Miraculeuses refers to the mythical lecture that surrealist André Breton delivered in Port-au-Prince (Haiti) in 1946, supposedly unleashing a student revolt that contributed to the overthrow of the military dictatorship of Elie Lescot, which was backed by the US government. The work also refers, metaphorically, to the way in which cultural militancy and spontaneous activism can provoke radical political changes. From this perspective, the history of Haiti is particularly relevant as it was the first colony in the Americas to revolt against slavery, confronting the French colonial power in 1791. It is said that this occurred after a voodoo ceremony of political-religious character was organized, the Bois-Caïman Ceremony, a liberating rite that for many was born out of the terror brought by slavery.
The work of Sam Durant (Seattle, 1961) intertwines historical and cultural events from the past with their traces and repercussions in contemporary times. His research has focused on fundamental periods such as the nineteenth-century struggles between Native Americans and European settlers, the fight for civil rights in the United States and the student riots of 1968.

Cildo Meireles

Tiradentes: Totem-Monumento ao Preso Político

Four black and white photographs (exhibition copies)
24 x 16 in each 

Courtesy the artist and Galería Luisa Strina, São Paulo, Brazil

Joaquim José da Silva Xavier “Tiradentes” was one of the members of the so-called Inconfidência Mineira, an uprising in rejection of the payment of taxes imposed on the province of Minas Gerais by colonial authorities, and aiming at gaining independence from the Portuguese Crown. After the revolt failed, Tiradentes was convicted of treason and executed. He was hanged and dismembered and thus denied the rites of a Christian burial.

Tiradentes: Totem-Monumento ao Preso Político [Tiradentes: Monument Totem to the Political Prisoner] was conceived as an homage to Tiradentes (who, over the years, went from being a traitor to a martyr and later to a national hero), and to all the political prisoners victims of the military dictatorship. In this work, Cildo Meireles (Rio de Janeiro, 1948) carried out an unexpected action: the artist tied ten chickens doused in gasoline to a wooden stake and burned them alive in a public ritual of great cruelty. This work marked a crucial moment in the history of Brazilian art and was considered a brutal criticism of the military regime and the disappearance of its opponents promoted by the state.

Eustáquio Neves

Sem título, from the series Memória Black Maria

Black and white analog photography, digital output print on photographic paper (exhibition copy)
14 x 11 in
1995, printed in 2019

Collection Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Gift Pirelli, 1996, MASP.01976

Eustáquio Neves (Juatuba, Minas Gerais, 1955) provides an insight into the resonances of slavery in modern culture, strongly centered on his own identity. This work Sem título from the series Black Maria Memoria [Untitled, from the series Black Maria Memory] refers to the topic of slavery by revisiting the historical legend of Zumbi from a contemporary perspective. Zumbi dos Palmares (Alagoas, Brazil, 1655-1695) was one of the main warrior leaders of black slaves in northeastern Brazil, famous for having promoted resistance against Portuguese oppression. The Quilombo dos Palmares, located in the current União dos Palmares region, Alagoas, was a self-sustaining community formed by slaves who had escaped from the Brazilian fazendas. The word zumbi (zombie) has its origins in the Quimbundo dialect, and means ghost or spectrum; and in the Iimbagala dialect, it refers to someone who has died and returned to life. Regardless of its origin, the historical figure of Zumbi represents today, for the Brazilian population, a symbol of resistance.

Carla Zaccagnini

De Sino a Sina

Sound and vitrine
5:20 min

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

De Sino a Sina (which could be translated as From Bell to Destiny) refers to the story of Joaquim José da Silva Xavier “Tiradentes” who was executed after the failure of the independence movement that he joined in 1789, in the Minas Gerais region, challenging the Portuguese crown. Tiradentes was convicted of treason and executed. He was hanged and dismembered and thus denied the rites of a Christian burial. This piece records the sound of the bell that is supposed to have secretly played in solidarity with the conspirator, and which is said to have been subsequently transferred to the city of Brasilia (the symbol of Brazilian modernity) to toll during its inauguration in 1960. With this recording, Carla Zaccagnini seeks to trace the African legacy in the conception of Brazil as a modern country. She points to the contradictions in the way in which history is constructed through the gradual transformation of a character like Tiradentes who, as the years passed by, went from being a traitor, to being a martyr to a national hero.

Carla Zaccagnini (Buenos Aires, 1973) has investigated the construction of Brazil as a modern country. Her proposal addresses topics such as the gold rush in Brazil and its relationship with slavery; the influence of European aesthetics and its assimilation by indigenous cultures, as well as the political transformation of the symbolic value of images.


The configuration of the space of death  

On how the metabolism of terror, inherited from colonial practices such as slavery and exploitation, has permeated in different times and contexts and has replicated itself. On how the orchestration of fear and the muffling of memories inhabit an extension that demarcates a space of death as the point of silencing is not to erase memory but to direct it to the depths of a personal retreat (Michael Taussig). There, dream and reality interlace in a worldly nightmare whose pockmarked landscape holds the traces of displacements and migrations, disappearances and deaths, putting to the test how bodies and objects are presented and re-presented, and assessing their ability to bear witness and tell a story.

Fredi Casco

Pascua dolorosa

Mixed media on three old worksheets
8 1/2 x 13 in each

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

Fredi Casco (Asunción, 1967) drew the series Pascua dolorosa [Painful Easter] on old record sheets documenting the exploitation of the land in the logging region of Caapucú, Paraguay. It was in this district where one of the most violent episodes in the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner (1954–1989) took place in 1976. The event during which peasants were kidnapped, tortured and many of them killed, became known as Pascua dolorosa (Painful Easter). There is no official account of how many people died since they lacked identity papers and did not officially exist for the State. In 2009, human bone remains were found that are believed to belong to the workers killed in 1976.

Edgardo Aragón

Mesoamericana (New Grand Civilizations), Economic activities

Toner and pencil on paper
26 3/4 x 45 3/4 in

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

Edgardo Aragón (Oaxaca, 1985) addresses the violence generated by the structures of power, creating narratives that interweave his family history and the political reality of Mexico. The artist has created a series of maps that refer, among other things, to the way in which different globalized economies (formal and informal, including drug trafficking) have changed the continent’s geography and its social dynamics.

Naufus Ramírez Figueroa

Guardian 2 

Carved mahogany wood
43 1/4 x 56 1/4 x 22 3/4 in

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

Naufus Ramírez Figueroa

Obsidian Clock: Ante Meridiem

Eight woodcuts printed on black paper
15 1/2 x 15 1/2 in each

Courtesy the artist and Proyectos Ultravioleta, Guatemala City

In this series of works presented across the first and second gallery, Naufus Ramírez Figueroa explores the historical memory and political reality of the ruins of Kawinal, an archeological site of postclassic Mayan culture that was flooded in order to construct the hydroelectric dam of Chixoy in 1975 in a supposed effort to bring electricity to the country. However, the reality was that the communities living in the area faced the swamping of their lands and properties, and endured the loss of their sacred sites. Those who refused to relocate became the victims—many of which were women and children—of what came to be known as the 1982 massacre of Río Negro at the hands of the military, the spectral traces of which still pervade behind the natural and cultural landscape of the region. Ramírez Figueroa revisits the political history of this event and other communities, to elaborate a narrative that offers a critical perspective on the grim consequences of an armed conflict, which emerges from the social landscape and cultural horizon of the region.

In Naufus Ramírez Figueroa’s practice (Guatemala City, 1978) narrative and performance are interwoven through the use of sculptural objects that frequently link pre-Columbian civilizations, colonial times and the contemporary history of the artist’s native Guatemala. His work is inhabited by hybrid creatures combining human figures, animal or vegetable forms, which haunt the history of its country and his own autobiography.

Jorge Julián Aristizábal

La masacre de El Aro

Watercolour and mixed media on paper
70 7/8 x 80 3/4 in

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

La masacre de El Aro [The Massacre of El Aro] refers to a massacre in Colombia which occurred on October 22, 1997 in the municipality of Ituango, Department of Antioquia. Fifteen individuals accused of being leftist supporters of FARC were massacred by paramilitary groups. Perpetrators also raped women, burned down forty-three houses, stole cattle and forcibly displaced nine hundred people. The work, comprising three parts, belongs to a series in which the artist depicted some of the most infamous Colombian scandals of the last years in a colorful and scholarly style in a reference to the wall newspapers habitually made by schoolchildren. For this series, the artist was inspired by a question from a young relative during a family dinner about the nature of the investigation known as Proceso 8000. As with many of his pieces, Jorge Julián Aristizábal’s explicit intention in this body of work is to speak out against the way in which such events tend to be quickly forgotten.

Jorge Julián Aristizábal (Medellín, 1962) is interested in creating images that awaken the language of the unconscious and that not only present “ideas” but that can also challenge and dispute those very ideas. His figurativism has served to question the values of what he describes as the double standards that pervade contemporary Colombian society, from the prejudices on private decisions such as sexuality and religious filiation, to public concern over issues such as corruption and the political environment in which the artist exists.

Pável Aguilar

El pueblo es superior a sus líderes

19:43 min


Courtesy the artist and Foro.Space, Bogot. Please click here to listen to the piece

Pável Aguilar (Tegucigalpa, 1989) is interested in the dissemination of political discourse of historical leaders in the continent. In El pueblo es superior a sus líderes [The people are superior to their leaders], he focuses on Colombian President Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, one of the main liberal world leaders in the first half of the twentieth century. The artist created a musical composition from the sound intonation of the last speech that Gaitán delivered prior to his murder on April 9, 1948, which resulted in the popular uprising known as El Bogotazo.

The execution of Gaitán, head of the Liberal Party, unleashed a wave of protests that expanded from Bogotá to other cities and regions in the country, triggering the era known as La Violencia (Violence). The duration of this historical episode, that for some covers the 1948-1958 decade, is still debated as its consequences have lasted longer than imagined, adding to the many reasons that unleashed a complex internal armed conflict in which the Public Force, various guerrillas, paramilitary groups, drug dealers and criminal gangs have participated to this day.

Nohemí Pérez

Apuntes para Panorama de Catacumbo 1, 2, 3, 4

11 x 15 in each

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

The epicenter of the aesthetic universe of Nohemí Pérez (Tibú, Colombia, 1962) is the Catatumbo, an isolated region bordering Venezuela that has remained invisible to modern development. There are many factors that affect not only the territory but also the bodies that inhabit it, as well as their material and immaterial history. Due to the peculiar geographical situation of Catatumbo, the exploitation of its resources and its people have been constant, responding to different economic interests such as the oil and gold rush, as well as drug trafficking. Much of the artist's work, including Apuntes para Panorama de Catacumbo 1, 2, 3, 4 [Notes for Panorama de Catatumbo 1, 2,3, 4], responds to the need to preserve the memory of a landscape that has been highly affected by war, displacement and armed conflict.

Alfredo López Morales

Untitled (Inspired by El Pistaku by Nicario Jiménez Quisoe),

Plaster, wood, and paint
23 1/4 x 13 1/2 x 3 1/2 in


This altarpiece by Alfredo López Morales finds its inspiration in a piece by Nicario Jiménez (Alcamenca, Perú, 1957) that refers to the Pishtaku, an Andean folk figure who supposedly slaughtered his victims, mostly poor peasants, to extract the fat from their corpses. Traditionally he was depicted as a hairy man with a white skin and light colored eyes. His physical features were frequently associated with the image of the Catholic priest during colonial times. It was believed that priests used the human fat from members of their parishes to heal their wounds and to grease the bells of the churches so that their sound could have a greater reach. As Perú became an industrialized country, the Pishtaku was thought to have diversified its practices and sold the fat as lubricant for engines and as fuel for airplanes and rockets. Later, during the 1980’s, the social imaginary associated it with the presence of military agents, from both local and foreign governments. Rumors also circulated stating that the country's foreign debt could be paid with human fat.
In any case, the figure of the Pishtaku refers to the systematic exploitation of indigenous populations, and is relevant for many people to understand how a movement like Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) was born and took root in Perú.


The production of truth and the negation of oblivion 

On imagination as a form of re-presentation. On fiction as a strategy of resistance. Where fantastic characters and mythological figures (zombies, mummies, pishtacos) hypostatize to underscore the need to read fiction against the grain, not as illusion or make-believe, but as a form of documentation and mediation that escapes historical positivism (Anselm Franke). On how the role of the human and the non-human, of living and dead matter, of victim and victimizer, has changed over the years and across various territories. Where the way in which bodies confer and how they make themselves heard is being discussed.

Pierre Huyghe

Dead Indian Hill 

25 x 37 3/4 in

Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York

This photograph taken in the Atacama desert (what is believed to be the skeletal remains of a mining worker) expresses the artist's fascination for this carcass that represents a sign of life in a lifeless place. The feeling of extreme climate change that stimulated life or death is something that the artist underlines and explores in many of his works.
The works of Pierre Huyghe (Paris, 1962) push the boundaries between fiction and reality. His work materializes in a variety of media that include movies, live situations or exhibitions, which sometimes operate as ecosystems in themselves.

Rometti Costales

Song for a Chanting Fossil I and II

Mixed media: Installation made from bronze, electric cables, led bulbs, woven totora ropes, steel cable and rails, bird bones from the desert of Atacama
Dimensions variable

Courtesy the artists, KADIST collection

To create this work, Rometti Costales casted in bronze the branches of an araucaria tree using the lost-wax technique (also known as precision casting), cut fragments of steel rails such as those used during the Pinochet dictatorship to dispose of corpses, and organic remains of birds from the Atacama Desert, an environment that contains several traces of the economic and political history of Chile. By amalgamating all these elements in a single piece, the artists refer to the process of fossilization through which one material replaces another and inscribes itself into the landscape. By referring to the displacement and decontextualization of objects, bodies, and materials, Rometti Costales (Mexico City, 2007) opens a series of questions about how the narrative frameworks of social and cultural history are preserved and transmitted, and how their spatial and temporal dimensions can be deployed to other geographical locations.

Cristóbal Lehyt

Untitled (Given a wall, what's happening behind it?)

Mixed media on plexiglass
48 x 48 in

Courtesy the artist (both works), KADIST collection (on the right in the gallery)

Cristóbal Lehyt (Santiago de Chile, 1973) has conducted thorough research on the historical and cultural complexity of the northern region of Chile where the Atacama Desert is located. This area, rich both in terms of its cultural heritage and its natural resources (such as the copper mines), is at the origins of some of the most dramatic episodes in the country’s recent political history. With the series Untitled (Given a wall, what's happening behind it?), Lehyt invites the viewer to read the inscription of death in the desert landscape, while raising questions on the status of the image: How does it respond to its original environment, and how does it portray the history of the context that generates it? In whose name does an image speak and what kind of drama does it project?


Carlos Amorales

Negative Nature (Puppet Masters)

Two acrylic spray paintings and cardboard
92 1/2 × 82 7/10 in

Courtesy the artist and Nils Stærk Gallery, Copenhagen

This work spins-off from the film La aldea maldita [The Cursed Village], presented in the gallery on Saturdays and online, which articulates the various languages that the artist has created. The film narrates the story of a family of migrants who are lynched as they reach a strange town. In this fantastic village, a puppeteer challenges our pre-existing vision of the world as he manipulates the characters in a kind of shadow play that seems to be activated by musicians and actors.

The visual vocabulary that Carlos Amorales (Mexico City, 1970) uses in many of his installations, animations, drawings, sculptures and paintings, comes from his "Liquid Archive", a digital collection of cut out images that the artist extracts from his observation of nature and diverse urban scenes. Among the main symbols that repeat themselves throughout the archive are spider webs, birds, skulls, leafy branches, and pregnant women.